Tag

steroid

Skin

Top Recommendations for Patients With EczemaFeatured

Eczema is characterized by inflammation, barrier defect, blistering, itching, and very dry skin. Eczematous skin can get so dry that it cracks…and then microbial infection can become an additional problem.
What to do to keep skin with eczema smooth, happy, and healthy…and steroid free? Let’s start with what not to do.

What To Avoid:

  • Harsh soaps;
  • Hot water;
  • Frequent washing;
  • Drying alcohol (not all alcohol is drying);
  • Natural remedies (without your doctor’s ok) — many natural ingredients are common contact allergens;
  • Using topical steroids every day for a prolonged period of time — this can be dangerous to your skin and cause other serious health problems;
  • NOT using topical steroids if prescribed by your doctor;
  • Not taking other prescribed medication and not following your doctor’s instructions;
  • Using products with allergens, especially perfumes, dyes, preservatives or any other allergen identified by a patch testing.
  • Your allergens in everything else: skincare, makeup, shampoo, clothing, digital equipment, plants and fruits, house cleaning products, laundry detergent, room sprays, vaping, scented candles, etc.

Best Practices:

1) Practice Strict Allergen Avoidance.

Contact dermatitis is a common cause of eczema and flare-ups, which is why patch testing is standard in the diagnosis and management of the condition. Once you know what your allergens are, you can avoid them in your skincare, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, clothing, phone cases, house cleaning products and laundry soap, and more.
For more on common allergens, check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen tab. For products free of all or most common contact allergens, check out VMVHypoallergenics.com. If you would like customized product recommendations based on your particular patch test results, contact us or drop us a private message on Facebook

2) Less Is More, and Hypoallergenic Is Best.

The fewer products the better, and hypoallergenic products — without the top allergens as published by dermatologists who do lots of patch testing — are the safest options.

3) Your Dermatologist Is A Long-Term Partner, Not A Fling.

Your skin, as with all other organs, changes over time. If your eczema is being managed well, schedule an appointment with your doctor once or twice a year for a general checkup. Your patch test might need to be repeated because you may have developed new allergies (or outgrown others). And of course, follow your doctor’s instructions for flare-ups.

4) PRAM: Prevent, Repair, Antimicrobial, Moisture.

Normalizing eczema means babying your skin:
Prevent:

  • Avoid your allergens as strictly as possible.
  • Use very gentle cleansers, soaps, lotion…everything. Think “gentle” in terms of textures, too: no rough or abrasive fabrics or materials.
  • Look for products that are validated as hypoallergenic and that contain as few ingredients as possible.
  • Prevent flare-ups before they can even start by being consistent about your daily care and trying a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm if you feel that there is a risk of a flare.

Repair:

  • The skin’s barrier layer becomes compromised in eczematous skin. Look for moisturizers that provide barrier repair like virgin coconut oil.
  • “Repair” here also means: quickly and properly address a flareup should an emergency happen. Your doctor may prescribe a topical steroid for a short amount of time. Immune-modulating and other anti-allergy drugs may be called for if the eczema is generalized or recurrent despite strict allergen avoidance. Antihistamines or centrally-acting medicines can help relieve severe itching.
  • Part of repair is normalizing skin quickly after a flare. Early on, apply virgin coconut oil (VCO) to soften the crust as it forms (the crust makes the skin dry, hard and itchy). Keep applying the oil for occlusion, giving skin a secondary barrier against water loss.

Antimicrobial:
Opportunistic bacteria and viruses can enter microscopic cracks in very dry skin to cause a secondary infection. This makes the management of eczema more difficult, and can make itching and dryness worse. Remember that some antimicrobials are allergens, too, so use a non-allergenic option like monolaurin) or ask your doctor for guidance as prescription drugs may be needed for a secondary infection.
Moisturize:
Avoid drying ingredients in skincare and be generous about applying occlusive, healthy moisturizers. It’s so important that layering moisturizers for extra protection is often recommended: follow a daily moisturizer with virgin coconut oil (VCO replaces the fatty acids that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation).

How To Care For Skin With Eczema

Based on what we know about eczema, we recommend this daily regimen:

  1. FACIAL CLEANSING: Red Better Deeply Soothing Cleansing Cream
  2. SHAMPOO & BODY CLEANSING
  3. CONDITIONER: Essence Skin-Saving Conditioner
  4. MOISTURIZERS:
  5. FOR CRUSTS OR VERY DRY PATCHES: Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm
  6. FLARE-UP PREVENTION: steroid-free Red Better Calm-The-Heck-Down Balm
  7. SUN & LIGHT PROTECTION, BARRIER PROTECTION: (physical sunscreens that double as a barrier cream to help prevent contact irritations)

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?
What Causes Eczema?
Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Skin

Eczema Flare-Up? Here's What To Do…Featured

If you’re noticing a flare coming, try staving it off with a steroid-free soothing balm or anti-inflammatory balm. If you experience a flare-up, follow what your doctor prescribes.

First, practice mindfulness.

Eczema is an inflammatory condition. Panic and stress can fuel inflammation. Make your first action to practice your calming techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.

Next, do what your doctor tells you…which is probably a steroid.

For emergencies, dermatologists will usually prescribe a topical steroid. For bad flare-ups, dermatologists may prescribe a steroid of moderate to high potency in a cream base for acute eczemas, and in an ointment base for chronic eczemas.
While a topical steroid may be necessary — which means you should use it as prescribed — remember that steroids are not meant for daily use over a long time (like a regular cream).
The goal is to quickly address the emergency, then move to softening the skin, and prioritize prevention to avoid future flare-ups as much as possible. Done right, strict allergen avoidance and a simple regimen that is ultra-gentle and prioritizes barrier repair should reduce your need for a steroid to one or two times a year, if that.

Then, focus on normalizing and getting back to prevention…

…by softening the dry skin that develops as the eczema moves into a subacute, then to a chronic phase.
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) applied at any phase of eczematous skin is soothing, and moisturizing. It is also, importantly, a gentle yet potent antimicrobial (secondary bacterial, fungal and even viral invaders can penetrate cracks in dry skin and worsen eczema and itchiness). VCO is also ideal for barrier repair because it replaces the fatty acids that that make up the skin’s cell walls which are destroyed with inflammation. Just remember to choose a 100% pure, organic virgin coconut oil, or one with monolaurin for additional antimicrobial protection.
All the above normalizes eczema, lessens inflammation, and helps remove dried-up crust, making the skin much less itchy. Once you’re in this phase, circle back to strict allergen and trigger prevention and your gentle regimen.
TIP: VCO is especially soothing on flaring skin when stored in the refrigerator here it naturally “butters” (it melts upon contact with skin). Or, use the VCO as a cold compress on eczematous skin.

Do NOT:

  • Ignore your doctor’s orders.
  • Reach for natural remedies without your dermatologist’s approval (many natural ingredients are common contact allergens).
  • Continue to use your topical steroid beyond what is prescribed to calm an acute flare-up.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?
What Causes Eczema?
Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Skin

What Causes Eczema?Featured

Eczema causes include…

a. Contact dermatitis

From…

  • Allergens in skincare and makeup;
  • Clothing, jewelry, eyeglasses, accessories;
  • Phone and computer materials and protective cases;
  • Flowers, plants, and fruits;
  • Insecticides, dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, house cleaning solutions;
  • Airborne allergens from perfumes, room sprays, even vaping.

There are many more common contact allergens than you might think. This is why a patch test is normally done if eczema is suspected. For more on common allergens, check out our popular Allergen-Not An Allergen tab. For products free of all or most common contact allergens, check out VMVHypoallergenics.com. If you would like customized product recommendations based on your particular patch test results, contact us or drop us a private message on Facebook.

b. Atopic dermatitis:

Atopy means an inherited allergy. It is…

  • …Atopic dermatitis when the target organ is the skin;
  • …Rhinitis if the target is the nasal passage;
  • …Bronchial asthma if the target is the bronchial passages (the lungs).

c. Hereditary or acquired:

Because atopic dermatitis is hereditary, it often starts in infancy or early childhood.
Contact dermatitis, on the other hand, tends to develop later as we become more exposed to allergens in things that we use, touch, and are otherwise exposed to.

d. Nummular eczema…

…is caused by a combination of factors that include:

  • Atopic skin with bacterial contamination;
  • Insect bites;
  • Friction and irritation from rough materials; and/or
  • Allergic contact dermatitis.

These factors make the skin hyperactive, causing the large circular patches that characterize nummular eczema.

e. Seborrheic dermatitis

Also known as skin dandruff of the scalp or face often starts as scales. If irritated or secondarily infected (those opportunistic microbes again!), they can become eczematous.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Is Eczema?
Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…
Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Skin

What Is Eczema?Featured

Eczema is…

…not any “sensitive skin.” Eczema is a general term for atopic dermatitis, which is the inflammation in the upper dermis of the skin.
This inflammation brings about “edema,” which is swelling from fluid retention. The fluid then moves upwards to the epidermis (the skin’s topmost layer), collects in between cells, and eventually becomes fluid-filled “bubbles” on the skin’s surface.
These bubbles get bigger, then enlarge, become blisters, dry up, and crust over, which is when they can get itchy and develop cracks. Opportunistic microbes can invade the skin through these cracks, causing more dryness and itching.
Redness is common, too, and indicates an active inflammation from…

  • The barrier defect inherent to atopic dermatitis; and/or
  • An offending product with an allergen — which is why patch testing and using validated hypoallergenic products are so important;
  • A secondary infection; or
  • Dry, crusty skin.

Removing the cause removes the inflammation and reduces the redness.
Note: Food can also contribute to redness. Scratch testing can help but positive results do not always correlate with the eczema flare-ups.

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Check out the other posts in this series:

What Causes Eczema?
Eczema Flare-Up? Here’s What To Do…
Top Recommendations for Patients With Eczema


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Featured, Skin

What Was Meant To Help You May Hurt You—Ease Up On The Topical SteroidsFeatured

It’s a cruel irony: steroids intended to calm extreme itching and inflammation may cause them…

…and other, more serious problems.
Topical steroids can be necessary and incredibly effective at easing the itch and inflammation of very bad flare-ups or allergic reactions. But use with caution.
Some steroids are top allergens (Corticosteroids were the American Contact Dermatitis Society‘s “allergen of the year” in 2005).
Long-term steroid use can:

  • Thin the skin, making it drier, more sensitive to ever more ingredients, and more difficult to treat;
  • Result in decreasing efficacy…so you end up using more and more to try to get similar relief…which leads to less relief and more use;
  • Steroidal acne;
  • Rebound phenomenon when trying to wean off of steroids;
  • Debilitating and sometimes fatal conditions like Cushing’s disease.

Even chronic contact dermatitis, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and other inflammatory conditions can be managed very well by:

  1. Consistent and accurate prevention: chronically dry skin and frequent flare-ups are frequently a matter of not yet identifying the triggers, or not avoiding them as carefully (for example, using a “fragrance-free” soap that actually contains related ingredients such as benzyl alcohol; using clothing that has dyes with hidden metals; inhaling fragrance via scented candles, etc.). The first step is getting a patch test and working closely with a contact dermatitis specialist to identify what you might be coming into contact with that has your allergens, but may not be immediately obvious.
  2. Prioritizing barrier care: in many inflamed skin conditions, the skin’s barrier is compromised. Intensive, protective moisturizers, more occlusive balmsvirgin coconut oil (which has fatty acids native to skin), and other barrier-protective products can help.
  3. Anti-inflammatory lifestyle: getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, regular exercise are all ways to help reduce inflammation.
  4. Milder anti-inflammatories can also help so that, ideally, steroid use is limited to real emergencies, a few times a year.

 
For more information, check out:
CORTICOSTEROIDS: Allergen or Not An Allergen?
Topical Steroids Can Lead to Serious and Fatal Conditions
Steroids: Not For Long-Term Use
Case Studies: Dye Contact Dermatitis, Prolonged Steroid Use & Rebound, Psoriasis

Featured, Skin

My Baby Has EczemaFeatured

“My baby has atopic dermatitis and a friend of mine recommended that I use your products…

He’s 15-months old and was diagnosed by a dermatologist with atopic dermatitis when he was 6-months old. This was confirmed by an allergist who said to give him cetirizine antihistamine daily before bedtime. He has been taking cetirizine for about a year. He gets red patches in the folds of his arms and legs, white patches, prickly heat-like dots, rough elbows and dry skin, mostly on his upper arms, neck, nape and when bad, on the torso, too. He scratches all the time, especially with flare-ups. The triggers we have identified are carrots, sun, sweat, anything with a strong smell, oatmeal soap/lotion, change in climate, dust, stuffed toys, dairy. (Topical corticosteroid lotion) helps flare-ups subside in 2-3 days. I bathe him twice-a-day. In the morning, I use (soap) on his head, face and body, then (cleanser) all over body and rinse, followed by (bath oil) and (lotion). In the evening, I use the soap on his head, then (cleansing cream) all over, which I leave for a few minutes for absorption, and rinse. I follow this with the oil and lotion.”

We asked a few dermatologists and VMV Hypoallergenics CEO to weigh in…

Laura (VMV CEO): That is a lot of product, especially for a baby 🙂 I’d suggest a 7-Day Skin Fast first. Then Coo & Clean or Clark Wash for bathing, Oil’s Well virgin coconut oil (VCO) and, if needed, Armada Baby as a barrier cream. Also, Fawn & Launder for laundry, and avoid clothing with bright colors, elastics/spandex/rubbers, garters, any scratchy material. Just pure white or natural cotton for a while.
Dr. A. Ortega: I would advise against bathing baby 2x-a-day. Once is enough then just wash axillae, genital area and feet at night. If there are flare-ups, virgin coconut oil can double as body wash and moisturizer. I agree with Laura in using Clark Wash for body and Fawn & Launder for laundry.
Dr. B. Ong: My 21-month old daughter also has atopic dermatitis and our daily routine for her since she was 7-months old is:

  1. Know-It-Oil (VCO) all over the body before and after bathing, and bathe only once a day;
  2. Mommycoddling Lotion all over body after bath, before nap time, and before bedtime;
  3. Boo-Boo Balm on the backs of the knees, antecubital and ankles, and diaper area at least three times a day;
  4. Before bedtime: VCO first all over then Mommycoddling Lotion on top, then Boo-Boo Balm on areas of flare before she finally puts on her pajamas.

This routine saves her from topical steroids. I suggest this mom see her allergist again and ask about the cetirizine that baby has been taking for almost a year. I fear that may be too long a period for a baby of 15 months. The standard antihistamine duration for kids, even for mine, was at most, two months.
Dr. A. Ortega: Yes, a 15-month old baby taking cetirizine for too long is an important point to consider.
Dr. S: I fully agree with a change in detergent, using instead a very mild unscented one. No elasticized materials. Use white, cotton clothing including underwear. Even the beddings and pillowcases should be cotton with no bright colors, just plain white as much as possible.
These suggestions should not be considered medical advice. Follow your dermatologist’s directions.

Featured, Skin

Can't Calm Rosacea? #candew!Featured

Can’t make a moisturizer for über sensitive skin? #candew!

25% of women who have rosacea associate their skin irritation with the use of moisturizers.* Red Better Daily Therapy Moisturizer isn’t only ultra-gentle (sans all 76 common allergens) but also features specific therapeutic benefits like anti-cathelicidins,** anti-inflammatories and antioxidants (all important for rosacea management) and anti-microbials to target Demodex folliculorum.

A simple cleanser can’t make a difference, can it? #candew!

By reducing irritation and protecting the skin’s compromised barrier, as well as providing antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory therapy, the right cleanser can “enhance the overall management” of rosacea.”*

RedBetter-Globes-Cleanser-Splash-20160229

Can I ever get a facial if I have rosacea? #candew!

Our “Oh So N-ice” facial uses only our ultra-gentle formulations and anti-inflammatory Red Better products — plus strategic cool compresses — to soothe and relieve red or hyperreactive skin. It calms and cools, and treats skin to some quality time with reparative antioxidants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.

InSKIN-CalmRosacea-BerriesWtext-20160401

Rosacea can’t be successfully managed, can it? #candew!

Rosacea has a “complex, multifactorial pathophysiology”** — basically meaning it has several symptoms and many possible causes. Some of these include sensitivity due to the skin’s barrier dysfunction, photo-damage, too much cathelicidin (pro-inflammatory) in the skin, and certain mites called Demodex folliculorum. Management is possible but it does require, more than anything else, prevention: avoid sun and light exposure, use a powerful (yet allergen-free) mineral sun AND light screen (even indoor lights can cause a photosensitive reaction), proper skin care (avoid your allergens — get a patch test to be sure), and a good dermatologist (some cases may need medication).** Think you might have rosacea? Stay calm and follow these steps.

YOU NEED A DERMATOLOGIST 

Even experts are known to mistake one skin disease for another, and rosacea can look like other conditions to an untrained eye (you shouldn’t be self-diagnosing, no matter how confident you feel about your Google medical degree). Seek out a dermatologist —ideally one who specializes in rosacea.

ASK YOUR DERMATOLOGIST FOR A PATCH TEST 

“External irritants, which may be included in many poorly selected skin-care and cosmetic products, can exacerbate signs and symptoms of rosacea.”** Knowing which allergens you, in particular, are sensitive to, is incredibly empowering and helps you avoid exactly what you need to. A patch test saves you the confusion and frustration (and expense!) of random trial and error.

KEEP YOUR SKIN CALM 

There’s a reason why so many rosacea products contain antioxidants and ant-inflammatories — they help reduce inflammation and damage from oxidation. But some products with these important ingredients also contain allergens and irritants. Red Better has only antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and anti-microbials that are non-allergens, providing therapeutic benefits without the sensitizers known to trigger rosacea.

For more on rosacea, check out Rosacea Roundup and How To Manage Rosacea on Skintelligencenter.com.

*Draelos ZD. Facial hygiene and comprehensive management of rosacea. Cutis. 2004;73:183–187
**Del Rosso JQ, Baum EW. Comprehensive medical management of rosacea: an interim study report and literature review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2008;1:20–25

Skin

Put Angry Skin On "N-ice"Featured

As Magical As Elsa

…without the angst

Rashes, redness, flare-ups…we need a powerful hero to put inflamed skin on ice. Red Better Flare-Up Balm has zero allergens, irritants, or long-term health risks, making it far less dangerous than steroids (and our favorite snow queen’s famous temper).
On chronic redness and hyperreactive conditions, powerful antimicrobials protect against Demodex folluculorum mites and other rosacea triggers. Mixed with anti-cathelicidins, anti-inflammatories and antioxidants in a deeply hydrating base, this palliative balm puts out the fire of redness and inflammation sans steroids. Use with the entire Red Better line for to prevent flare-ups to begin with.
Zero anger, all calm, all year round. Let it glow.